Barbara Van Dahlen, named to TIME magazine's 2012 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, is the founder and president of Give an Hour. A licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing in the Washington, D.C., area for 20 years, she specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children. Dr. Van Dahlen has spent her career interacting with and coordinating services within large systems, including school districts and mental health clinics. In addition, for many years, she served as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she trained and supervised developing clinicians. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland in 1991.
Concerned about the mental health implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dr. Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour in 2005. The organization has created a national network of mental health professionals who are providing free services to U.S. troops, veterans, their loved ones, and their communities. Currently, the network has nearly 6,700 providers, who have collectively given over $8.2 million worth of services.
As part of her work with Give an Hour, Dr. Van Dahlen has joined numerous panels, conferences, and hearings on issues facing veterans. She currently serves, for example, on Habitat for Humanity International's Military and Veterans Advisory Committee. A featured speaker at the October 2012 TEDxMidAtlantic "Be Fearless" event, Dr. Van Dahlen has participated in discussions at the Pentagon, Veterans Administration, White House, and Congress. In November 2011 she testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the topic “VA Mental Health Care: Addressing Wait Times and Access to Care." She is now working with governors and state directors of Veterans Affairs in several states on initiatives to address these issues on a local level. She also writes a monthly column for Veterans Advantage, an organization that connects veterans with low-cost assistance, and is contributing to a book on post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.
In January 2010 the “America Joins Forces with Military Families” retreat in White Oak, Fl., brought together representatives of 55 nonprofits, veterans and military family service organizations, government agencies, faith-based groups, and senior DOD offices to discuss the challenges facing America’s military families and how our nation must come together to address them. At that gathering Dr. Van Dahlen and other nonprofit leaders concerned about these issues began to refine a concept that had been percolating in the veterans support community for years—that of a blueprint to assist communities in more effectively and strategically supporting veterans and military families. Now a national initiative, the Community Blueprint Network has attracted the interest of local and national organizations and government officials, and Give an Hour is leading implementation of the blueprint in two demonstrations sites—Fayetteville, N.C., and Norfolk, Va.
Dr. Van Dahlen and Give an Hour have received numerous awards. In addition to her selection in the 2012 TIME 100, in April 2012 Give an Hour was chosen as one of the five winners of the White House's Joining Forces Community Challenge, sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Van Dahlen received a citation as one of Woman’s Day magazine’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, the Maryland Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, the WJLA 2009 Working Woman of the Year, and the American Psychiatric Association’s 2009 Rosalee Weiss Distinguished Public Service award. In 2010 she was selected as a featured speaker at the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy.
She has become a notable source and expert on the psychological impact of war on troops and families and a thought leader in mobilizing civilian constituencies in support of active duty service members, veterans, and their families. She has been interviewed by major media outlets such as AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, CNN, NPR, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Newshour, and such military media outlets as Stars & Stripes, AUSA Magazine, and the Pentagon Channel.